Turkish interior minister says over 30,000 members of police force expelled by decrees

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Tuesday said some 33,000 members of Turkey’s force have been expelled by statutory decrees since a corruption case in 2013, Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency reported.

The police force is currently staffed by 306,000 people, according to official figures.

Turkey’s police force saw an extensive overhaul after a corruption probe focusing on then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inner circle saw over 30 people including sons of three cabinet ministers arrested in December 2013. 

President Erdoğan says that the probe was an attack against his government carried out by followers of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric who lives in the United States on self-imposed exile. According to the government, Gülen is also responsible for the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

A significant portion of the police force and hundreds of members of the judiciary suspected of being Gülen’s followers have been reassigned, expelled or jailed in the ensuing purge.

“On the one hand we fight terrorist threats, on the other we ensure road safety. We fight against drugs and monitor order in cities,” Minister Soylu said. “We are engaged in a high-level fight against cybercrime, and we deal with migrant smuggling on land and sea.”

FETÖ, the name the government uses for the Gülen movement, dealt extensively with cybercrime, Soylu said, as he announced investment of equipment and personnel into the area of expertise.

The Cybercrime Department now has chapters in 79 out of the 81 provinces of Turkey, and the number of officers in the department was increased to 2,500 from 1,100 in early 2017, the minister said.

The minister said half of nearly 2 million digital files in evidence had been inspected since the coup attempt.